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Sit in the Front of the Classroom to Pay Better Attention

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TEENS: Are you satisfied with your grades, or are you disappointed that they aren't higher? Almost all students enjoy earning excellent grades and are eager to learn how to get this accomplished. If you are among these students, read on.

The competition for grades is intense, and where you sit in class can make a major difference in your grade point average. If you don't like sitting in the front row because the teacher might call on you more, you are making a huge mistake. Students who sit in the first row have a definite advantage, according to Dr. Paul Adams, a dean at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

"It's clear students tend to do much better in class when they sit close to the front (the closer, the better) because they become more engaged in the class," Adams says. "Of course it's not the sole determinant, but it's in the mix. It's a strategy we suggest because it works."

Students in the front of the class are often more in tune with the teacher, which translates into taking more notes, participating in more class discussions and maintaining better study habits. All this usually translates into a higher grade.

The middle of the classroom is one of the worst places to sit. In a classroom setting, a speaker's eyes tend to go to the front of the room and the back. They don't look at the center of a room as often or with the same amount of attention. Students who are shy, retiring, timid or have problems paying attention should avoid that area.

"It's a bit like the chicken and the egg," says Dr. Fred Ribich, professor of psychology at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa. "Is it the chair or is it the student?"

Generally, the more motivated and interested a student is, the more likely he or she is to sit in the front row, says Ribich. That helps keep them motivated and engaged in the class work.

"When you sit in the back of the classroom, you have a tendency to get distracted and watch other kids instead of the teacher. There's also better eye contact with the teacher when you sit in the front row," says Tina Parks, a junior elementary education major at Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, Pa.

In large college classrooms, some faculty can only name the students in the front and never learn the names of the students in the back, says Dr. James Herrick, chair of the communication department at Hope College in Holland, Mich. "Sit up front and toward the middle — the so-called 'zone of participation,'" Herrick advises.

Picking a chair in the front tells an instructor you're interested in the course, says Dr. Thomas Syre, assistant professor of health science at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va. "It's simple body language, but it says a lot," Syre notes.

Teachers need to remember students will avoid the front of the room to keep from being called, warns Dr. Diane Polachek, associate professor of education at Wilkes University. She recommends teachers vary the class seating, try different teaching methods and move around the classroom to make contact with all the students. "That way all students participate," she says, "regardless of their abilities or where they sit."

Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. E-mail him at rwallace@galesburg.net. To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2009 CREATORS SYNDICATE INC.

TWEEN 12 & 20

BY DR. ROBERT WALLACE

RELEASE TUESDAY, APRIL 7, 2009, AND THEREAFTER

Teenagers Tend to be Viewed as Poor Drivers

DR. WALLACE: I'm 16 and my mother refuses to allow me to ride in a car with a teenage driver. My boyfriend is 17. He is on the honor society, has a 3.9 grade point average and is a conscientious person. He is a safe, courteous driver who obeys all the driving laws.

I've asked, even begged, my mother to let me go out on a date with my boyfriend when he is driving his car. The answer is always no. What can I do to convince her that I'm safer riding with my boyfriend than I am with a lot of adults? — Cassie, Greenville, Miss.

CASSIE: Most teens possess the skills to be excellent drivers and many are safe drivers, but as a group they are poor risks because of youthful exuberance. This is the main reason insurance companies charge more to insure teen drivers.

It's obvious your mother is lumping your boyfriend in the poor-risk group. The better your mom gets to know your boyfriend, the better the chances she will agree he is a good driver. If possible, have your mom ride with your boyfriend; she can make a firsthand observation of his driving skills and see him as a safe driver.

SEX TALK COMES WHEN CHILD SHOWS INTEREST IN OPPOSITE SEX

DR. WALLACE: I'm the mother of a 13-year-old daughter, and we still haven't had our chat about sex. Do I wait for her to bring up the subject, or should I be the one to initiate the discussion? I am a single parent and want to make sure I do what is best for my daughter. I know she is interested in boys. She told me she wants to have a boyfriend soon because all her girlfriends have boyfriends already. — Mother, Rock Island, Ill.

MOTHER: The time for a parent-child discussion should start whenever the child asks questions about sex or when the child shows interest in the opposite sex, whichever comes first. It doesn't need to be one long discussion about all aspects of sex. Mothers and daughters may find having several shorter sessions, rather than one marathon talk, to be effective.

Parents should always answer all questions honestly, regardless of how outrageous they might seem. Children hear a lot about sexual matters from peers. Some of it is true, while some of it is false. Everything from you should be factual.

MOST BUSINESSES EXCEPT A GED CERTIFICATE

DR. WALLACE: I had to quit school when I was 17 and didn't have a chance to graduate. Now, at age 19, I find it is important to have a high school diploma, but I don't have time to go back to school. The counselor at the employment placement bureau said most employers want workers with a minimum of a high school diploma and would accept a GED certificate. What exactly is a GED and where can I earn one? — Jerry, York, Neb.

JERRY: GED stands for Tests of General Education Development. According to Stephen Stattler of the American Council on Education Center for GED Testing, approximately 95 percent of American businesses, industries and colleges accept the GED as the equivalent of a high school diploma.

To earn a GED, the candidate must pass five separate tests — writing, social studies, science, mathematics and interpreting literature and the arts — to prove he or she has skills that meet or exceed those of an average high school graduate. A counselor at your former high school can give you information on obtaining a GED.

Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. E-mail him at rwallace@galesburg.net. To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2009 CREATORS SYNDICATE INC.

TWEEN 12 & 20

BY DR. ROBERT WALLACE

RELEASE WEDNESDAY, APRIL 8, 2009, AND THEREAFTER

Talk to Counselor About Mother's Mistrust

DR. WALLACE: I'm 14, an above-average student, and I think I'm a pretty good kid. But no matter what I tell my mother, she won't believe me. I don't know why because I've never done anything to make her think I'm a liar.

Last night, I told her that I found a watch in the girls' restroom and had turned it into the school office. She told me I was lying and that I do it to get her attention. Dr. Wallace, I did find a watch and I did turn it in. When I told my mother she could call the school to verify it, she said she wouldn't waste her time.

I care for my mother and realize it's not easy being a single mom. But lately I feel like I will never tell her anything anymore. Help! — Rachel, Garden Grove, Calif.

RACHEL: Talk with a school counselor and explain the situation with your mother. Make sure the counselor sees your e-mail to me as well as my response. Ask the counselor to set up a meeting with you and your mother to discuss why she thinks you don't tell the truth. When doubtful parents hear the truth regarding their children from school professionals, they tend to accept their advice.

Often, parents who found it difficult to tell the truth when they were younger believe their children have the same problem. Don't cut off communication with your mom, regardless of whether she believes you or not. You know you are telling the truth and that's most important. Every day, tell your mom you love her. This might help her get over her hang-up.

AN ENGAGEMENT RING INDICATES YOU ARE MARRYING THE GUY

DR. WALLACE: I'm 19 and dating a great guy. He wants to give me a diamond engagement ring, and I'd like to accept the ring. The only thing is I'm not positive I want to get married to him. Would it be wrong to accept the ring?

I'd wear it proudly and would return it to him if we ever break up. He thinks an engagement ring is a symbol we will get married. I think it means we are thinking about getting married. What do you think? — Cherise, El Paso, Texas.

CHERISE: When you accept an engagement ring, you are telling the world you are to be married, not that you are considering the marriage. Since you are not 100 percent sure you want this guy to be your lifelong companion, don't accept the ring.

Personally, I think that you want the engagement ring just to stroke your ego. Shame on you!

FRECKLES PROTECT YOUR SKIN FROM THE SUN

DR. WALLACE: What are freckles? What can I do to get rid of them? I really think they make me look ugly. — Nameless, Talladega, Ala.

NAMELESS: Every year around this time, I receive "freckles" letters — all from females. It seems freckles bother girls more than boys.

Freckles are caused by an uneven distribution and production of melanin, which is a substance that gives skin its color.

Freckles serve as a part of your skin's protection against the sun's rays. The only way you can keep them at a minimum is by staying out of the sun. While they may be an annoyance to you, many consider freckles to be an attractive asset.

Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. E-mail him at rwallace@galesburg.net. To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2009 CREATORS SYNDICATE INC.

TWEEN 12 & 20

BY DR. ROBERT WALLACE

RELEASE THURSDAY, APRIL 9, 2009, AND THEREAFTER

Teen Needs to Be Strong and Resist Boyfriend's Sexual Advances

DR. WALLACE: I'm 16 and dating a guy I really care for. We have great times together, and when we're on a date he treats me like a lady. The only problem is that he is sexually aggressive. Almost every night before he takes me home, he does everything possible to get me to have sex.

I'm not a prude, but I'm a virgin and I am not ready to have sex. I'm writing because I know you will tell me to "hang in there" and not give in to Chuck. It's probably psychological, but I need all the help I can get. Reading your answer in the newspaper will help. — Nameless, Louisville, Ky.

NAMELESS: Of course I'm going to tell you to hang in there, but better yet, I'd like you to read the following letter from a girl who had a similar concern.

DR. WALLACE: I'm 16 and thought I had found my one true love. Cody was handsome, intelligent and a star football player. We started dating after the football season ended, and by Christmas we were going steady. He told me he loved me and I know I loved him. We had wonderful times together, except for one bothersome thing. He was sexually aggressive even on our first date. I thought I could get him to mellow out, but I was wrong. For the next four months, I had to fight him off on every date.

Finally, one very romantic evening, he convinced me that we loved each other very much and that the ultimate love was sharing sex. He was prepared! He had a condom. Being a virgin at the time, I was a very nervous young lady. I knew I should be fighting him off, but I guess I wasn't in the fighting mood. That sexual encounter was just the beginning. We had sex every time we went out together. Eventually, we never went anywhere except the back of his van. Gone were the fun times seeing movies, eating out, bowling and window-shopping at the mall.

Two weeks ago, after we had sex, Cody told me he wasn't going to see me anymore. He said he was going to start working out for his senior year in football, so he could earn a college athletic scholarship at a Division One (big-time college football) school. When I asked him if this was the end for us, he said yes. I asked him if he still loved me, but he wouldn't answer. I knew what his silence meant.

I'm not mad; I'm just disappointed in what I did. To be honest, I feel used, and I probably was. I am writing to you because I hope girls who might find themselves in similar situations will think twice, and think of me. — Nameless, Waco, Texas.

MOST GUYS DON'T WANT TO DATE SMOKERS

DR. WALLACE: Last week, I went out with a guy who got all bent out of shape when I lit a cigarette. I thought he knew that I smoked. I threw the cigarette away and didn't light up again, but I have the sneaking suspicion that he won't ask me out again. I've dated other nonsmoking guys who didn't care if I did. Was it wrong for me to light up? We were outdoors in a park. — Carla, San Jose, Calif.

CARLA: You should have said, "Do you mind if I light a cigarette?" The days of casually lighting up are over. In fact, the majority of guys prefer that their dates do not smoke.

An American Lung Association survey of teens found that 78 percent of the guys prefer to date nonsmokers, and only 1 percent would rather date a smoker. The other 21 percent said it didn't matter if the girl smoked. In the same survey of 12th-grade students, 20 percent of the girls smoked while 16 percent of the boys smoked.

Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. E-mail him at rwallace@galesburg.net. To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2009 CREATORS SYNDICATE INC.

TWEEN 12 & 20

BY DR. ROBERT WALLACE

RELEASE FRIDAY, APRIL 10, 2009, AND THEREAFTER

Tips to Help Stuttering Students Succeed

DR. WALLACE: I'm a fifth-grade teacher and one of my bright students stutters. The fourth-grade teacher at our school told me that she remembers some time back that you did a column for teachers to help them with students who stutter.

Is it possible that you could print it again? I'm sure other teachers could also use this information. — Teacher, Ft. Walton Beach, Fla.

TEACHER: I'm always eager to help teachers help their students. The Stuttering Foundation of America, a wonderful nonprofit organization, provides the following information.

According to University of Alabama professors Eugene Cooper and Mary Kay Yeakle, teacher attitudes toward stuttering are important in a young person's life and in the success of any therapy program for the child.

SOME FINDINGS IN THE ATTITUDE SURVEY OF 538 TEACHERS:

— More than half of the surveyed teachers felt that stuttering is caused by a psychological problem, yet specialists in stuttering reject that notion.

— Forty-two percent of teachers concurred in describing the personality of a stutterer in stereotypical ways such as "quiet" or "shy." Ironically, there is no evidence to indicate any common personality traits in stutterers as a group.

— Three out of 10 teachers admitted it was difficult for them to know how to react to a child who stutters in the classroom. "On the basis of these results, it may be concluded that a significant number of teachers hold unsubstantiated beliefs concerning the nature of stuttering," notes Cooper.

"When teachers are concerned about a child's fluency," says Jane Fraser, president of the nonprofit Stuttering Foundation of America, "they should consult with the school speech clinician and the parents to make sure their approach to the child's speech is consistent. Talk with the child privately and reassure him of your support; let the youngster know that you are aware of his stuttering and that you accept it — and him."

THINGS A TEACHER CAN DO TO HELP:

— Meet with parents of a child who stutters before classes begin to help you learn the parents' concerns and expectations.

— If there is a speech clinician at your school, contact him or her to see what suggestions he or she may have for this child. If the clinician is working with the child, find out what the objectives are.

— Encourage good talking manners in the classroom: No one interrupts, talks for or finishes words for anyone else.

— Don't let the child who stutters get away with things just because he or she stutters.

— As much as possible, treat the child who stutters the same as the other children in your class, with the exception of special assistance with oral recitation.

— Children who stutter should be expected to perform all classroom oral recitations even though they may need some special help to succeed. Encourage practice at home.

— Allow children who stutter enough time to talk; they often have trouble starting.

— Know that your caring enough to do these things can make a difference!

The Stuttering Foundation of America offers a free brochure, "The Child Who Stutters at School: Notes to the Teacher," written by University of Iowa's Dr. Dean E. Williams, a leading speech-language pathologist. To request a copy, write the Stuttering Foundation of America, P.O. Box 11749, Memphis, TN, 38111-0749 or call toll-free at 800-992-9392.

Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. E-mail him at rwallace@galesburg.net. To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2009 CREATORS SYNDICATE INC.

TWEEN 12 & 20

BY DR. ROBERT WALLACE

RELEASE SATURDAY, APRIL 11, 2009, AND THEREAFTER

Teen's Jealous Fiance Needs Treatment Before a Wedding Happens

DR. WALLACE: I'm 19 and my fiance is 21. We have plans to get married but haven't set the date, which he wants to be sometime this year. I care for Joshua very much and, for the most part, he is a good guy.

His major flaw is that he is extremely jealous and possessive of me. I'm considered a good-looking young lady, and a lot of guys stare at me for a moment or two. When Joshua sees this, he gets very mad and at times wants to fight with the guy who stared at me. When I'm with him, I have to make sure I don't glance at another guy. He even gets upset when my boss calls me to ask a question. The next day he always apologizes for being so "stupid" and promises it won't happen again, but it always does.

Yesterday we had a long talk about his "problem." He admits he has a jealous streak that's hard to control, but promises to cool it after we are married. As he said, "Then I'll know for sure that you're mine."

I've discussed all this with my mother. She feels Joshua's problem is serious and that I should not marry him — ever. Is it possible that he will change for the better after I'm his wife? I'd like to hear your views. — Lori, Cleveland, Ohio.

LORI: I've never subscribed to the theory that a person's psychological problem will vanish after a wedding ceremony. In fact, many times these same flaws intensify after saying "I do."

Since Joshua admits he has a psychological problem, I'd encourage him to seek treatment before you even consider setting a wedding date. Jealousy and possessiveness are serious psychological concerns that can be fatal if untreated.

P.S.: I like your mother's suggestion better than mine!

BOYFRIEND IS SPENDING TOO MUCH TIME TUTORING HER FRIEND

DR. WALLACE: I'm 16 and dating Jared, who is probably the smartest guy in my school. My best friend Lindsey is planning to go to college (I'm not), so she is really into getting good grades. Whenever she needs help, she always calls Jared.

That isn't exactly what bothers me. What really annoys me is that many times he goes over to her house and "helps" her for hours. Those two spend more time together than either of them spend with me. Last Sunday afternoon I wanted to go to a movie with Jared, but we didn't go because he promised Lindsey he'd help her with her English research paper.

I've voiced my unhappiness about their study habits to Jared and to Lindsey, but they both think I'm being supersensitive. I don't believe that. I think Lindsey is taking advantage of Jared's generosity, and Jared is so proud of his intelligence that he is oblivious to the fact that he and I are supposed to be a couple.

Please give me your comments, even if you agree with my "friends." — Karyn, Oklahoma City.

KARYN: It's honorable that your boyfriend is such an efficient tutor, but somehow I'm getting the feeling that he is taking his job a bit too seriously. I agree with you!

If those lengthy study sessions don't shrink drastically, and soon, say goodbye to Lindsey and Jared because she really wasn't a friend, and neither was he.

Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. E-mail him at rwallace@galesburg.net. To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2009 CREATORS SYNDICATE INC.



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